Guest Author - Eugene Bradford
Comic shops have been known by many names: comic book stores or shops, local comic shops or lcs, and comic retailers. That is not an exhaustive list however, just some of the more popular ones. In the past, they have also been referred to as comic specialty stores. Regardless of the name, the joy of spending quality time within one (particularly one of the better ones) is the same. There are some shops around the nation that are part of small chains. This is usually true in larger cities. Chances are that your local shop is the only one of its kind. Some people say this is better as it provides fans with friendlier customer service.
There are many aspects of a shop, and as such, these areas will hold appeal to people different. Different strokes for different folks as they say. One person might be there strictly for the comics while another person might solely enjoy table-top gaming or card competitions many shops hold. There will also be those who enjoy both.
The main feature of many retailers is the new comics section. This is what keeps readers and fans coming back. Many shops have a back issue section as well. Some stores might have a larger selection than others, and the years of those issues can range from more recent books to decade old books. Along with the comic singles, you will also find collected editions (trade paperbacks and hard covers) and graphic novels. These will usually be shelved on the side for easy browsing.
Most comic shops Iíve been to, including my regular ones or just some Iíve visited, offer a pull list or pull box service. With this service, readers provide a list of the titles they regularly read to their shop. This prevents readers from missing out on the titles they usually purchase. Depending on the owner, a small discount on each book may accompany this service as well. This is to thank readers for purchasing a number of books on a regular basis. Another point which could vary by store is the minimum number of titles a person must buy monthly to take advantage.
Going with comics, you should be able to stock up on comic supplies. Bags and boards are helpful for preserving your comics. Some retailers carry short and long boxes for collectors to store their comics.
Beyond comics, many retailers will also offer action figures, busts, or statues. Owners will also cater to the table-top gaming and card game enthusiasts. Items of interest to them will include game pieces and decks. Regular competitions are often held at several stores as well. A selection of posters and t-shirts are likely available at most shops.
Another aspect of the comic shop, which is a commonly discussed one among comic shop regulars, is conversation. I, along with many other readers, have spent hours on any random visit just discussing any number of subjects. The main topic is usually comics, but itís a comic shop, so that's expected. If it wasn't that way, I don't think myself or others would spend as much time hanging around shops. The areas being talked about won't always fall under comics though, but you can usually expect a decent chat. You might walk in on Wednesday to pick up the new books or any other day just to say hello, and a discussion about changes in a series might pop up. This could happen with the people working the shop or just other patrons who happen to be standing there. You might be talking about what is happening with the X-Men one moment and then the topic of the new creator-owned project coming from some of your favorite creators.
So head on down to your local shop and hang out. Take a friend if you can. Hopefully you can convert them to a comic reader. Support your local shop. Above all else, have fun.